The concept is simple: Instead of creating “new” heat, why not simply move around heat that already exists? Heat pumps do just that, providing warmth or cool air as needed, and saving a bundle year-round.
However simple the concept may be, though, the equipment is sophisticated. Keep your heat pump professionally maintained, and take simple steps yourself to care for it between service visits. Here are a few things homeowners can do to help keep a heat pump running reliably:
- Keep the outdoor unit clear of yard debris. Grass clippings, twigs and leaves can build up, compromising performance. Go ahead and give the condensing unit a spray with the hose now and then to rinse away dust and dirt.
- Use your thermostat well. In summer, set it as high as you’re comfortable with. You could set it a few degrees higher at night and during the day when your home is empty. During the winter, lower it a little.
- Keep your air filter clean. Check it once a month to make sure dust isn’t clogging things up. Heat pumps are designed to handle a specific amount of airflow. If this is reduced, so is heat pumps’ performance.
Some heat pump maintenance tasks should be left to certified technicians. Hire a contractor to:
- Test the refrigerant level. Refrigerant can be hazardous material, and handling it requires training and EPA certification.
- Check the coils for efficiency. In heat pumps, the condensing and evaporating coils switch roles. The fins on both have tiny gaps that easily collect dust and dirt, which impede airflow.
- Check the reversal valve. A faulty one could leave you with no cooling or heating.
- Ensure all electrical parts are functioning efficiently. Proper voltage and current and tight connections are all essential for safety, and to prevent premature degradation.
- Check the thermostat. Heat pump-specific thermostats are complex units.
The Department of Energy’s research indicates that well-maintained heat pumps last longer and use as much as 25 percent less energy than neglected units. Contact AC Pro for a Southern California or Nevada contractor to care for your system.
Our goal is to help inform our customers about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about heat pumps and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.Photo courtesy of www.shutterstock.com.